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General Information: The trail between Echo Summit and Carson Pass is a wonderful hike (or ski) from either direction. It is a long trip with lots of climbing and descending. The trail, however, is mostly obvious and well maintained, making this a high intermediate hike. You need to be in good physical shape and have intermediate back country skills. You should carry the Echo Lakes, Caples Lake and Carson Pass maps and a compass. The profile for this hike is for the north to south direction, but you can just reverse the profile if you are planning to go south to north.

Click here to view a map and elevation profile.

Where To Start: Most people shuttle a car, leaving one at Carson Pass and the other at Echo Summit.

Start this hike either from Carson Pass or Echo Pass. Carson Pass is on highway 88. At Carson Pass, park in the lot on the north side of the highway, just a few hundred feet past the ranger "station". There is a $3.00 fee.

Echo Summit is located south of Lake Tahoe on US 50. Coming from Lake Tahoe, go to Echo Summit and look for a left turn into the SnoPark parking lot (also a sign for the California Conservation Corp). No fee required here during the summer. In the winter, you'll need a SnoPark permit.

Trail Description: We will describe the trail from Echo down to Carson, but many people do this hike in the reverse direction as this reduces the climbing and increases the descending.

This trail is part of both the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). Look for the trail signs on small wooded posts that mark the beginning of the trail and any major trail junctions. The trail heads south from the parking lot at Echo Summit and climbs steadily for the first 2.5 miles. In this area you are hiking through Red Fir Forest with a sprinkling of Lodgepole Pine, Incense Cedar, Western White Pine, and even some Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine. After a couple of miles, the trail flattens for a bit the begins to climb again until it reaches nearly 9000' before descending to Showers Lake. Along the way, you will wander past high Sierra meadows and through classic, open Red Fir Forest. A couple of trails intersect with the PCT along this section, but are well marked. Be sure to stay on the PCT / TRT!

From Showers Lake, the trail descends steeply for a mile or so before entering the Upper Truckee River drainage. This leads to the incredible Meiss Meadows area, a huge alpine meadow along the banks of the river. After a couple miles of flat hiking along the meadow, a final climb out of the meadow area leads to the final descent to Carson Pass. In all, over 11 miles of hiking and (from Echo to Carson) 2875' of ascent and 1700' of descent.

This is a classic Tahoe hike and is a must do for any serious Sierra hiker!

Environmental Concerns: This trail is popular and gets a lot of summer use. Please dispose of waste at least 200 yards from any water being sure to bury it at least 6 inches deep. Giardia is a common water parasite that is present in all Sierra lakes and streams so be sure to filter, treat or boil water.

Advisory: Watch for rapidly changing weather in this part of the Sierras. Be prepared and follow good back country travel techniques. This is a long hike and will take a person in good shape 6 hours to complete, perhaps longer. Bring lots of water and a filter.

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